Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Stranger in Bangkok leaves his footprints on Coral Island (Koh Larn)

Happy New Year everyone! The Stranger in Bangkok has finally summoned sufficient energy to revive this hibernating blog. Since my last post, I have left my footprints in the freezing cold Hong Kong, stuttered through a work-filled Christmas (it really ain't a great feeling to slog in the office on 25 December) battling an inflamed throat and embraced 2011 in a resort island with a group of great people.

Thailand, being a predominantly Buddhist country, does not celebrate Christmas or Chinese New Year. Instead, the biggest celebrations fall on Songkran and the New Year, when Thais flock back to their hometowns to countdown with their loved ones over varying doses of booze. This was the very first time I was here for the party, so I really could not miss out on the fun. Therefore, I called a few new friends and left for Koh Larn (aka Coral Island), 45minutes by ferry off Pattaya on the 1st of January to experience how to party the Thai way.

Why Koh Larn and not Pattaya? I did not know at first, but after a short drive through Pattaya, I realised the answer:

Signs in Pattaya have words in English and Russian (??!!!!) but not Thai. This was really too ridiculous for me to accept, so Koh Larn here I come!
The colourful view that welcomed us on our arrival
Of course, hearing the name Coral Island, I was expecting sun, sand and sea in abundance, and it did not disappoint. The great thing was, though the Russians flocked to Koh Larn in the day to enjoy the turquoise blue waters and fine white sand, they were running to catch the last ferry back to Pattaya by 430pm, giving the island a nice local bustle towards nightfall.

The only people you will see in bikini are the Caucasians, in all ages, shapes and sizes.
Lots of water activities to do under the glaring sun, or you can rent a deckchair under an umbrella for 50THB/day

We don't swim, so we climbed to the top of a hill to enjoy the view.

And made sure we chose the right beach to be mesmerised by the sunset.
Enough of the beach then. It wasn't the beach that inspired me to spend my whole night on this post, but the kind hospitality we got from our hosts, Suntree Home Koh Larn! Just one night at this wonderful homestay made me realise that dreams do come true, as long as you work hard enough for them.

Welcome to Suntree Home Koh Larn

We stay in one of the 2 penthouses on the rooftop

Our rustic but cheerful room for 6

We're forced to bathe in the open, a vulnerable feeling indeed.
This chic homestay situated 10 minutes' walk from the jetty is run by 2 young men, Amp and Oui. Aside of being the only 2 contacts for reservations and customer service, they have to:

Drive the pick-up, (hereby introducing the gang of Nong, May, Par, Xinyi and Li Li)!

While we were waiting to go crazy on snacks and booze

The 2 owners had to prepare all the seafood we bought
Before quickly transforming into acoustic band Bakerou to entertain us on the rooftop

Then waking up early next morning to make sure we had tasty pork porridge for breakfast
Amidst all this busy-ness, they had to endure with me breaking a chair and our constant requests for the 3rd mattress to be quickly placed in the room though we weren't planning to sleep yet. They even took the trouble to make us dipping sauces for the seafood, advising us not to use the sauces we bought as they contained too much MSG.

Anyway, I just want to say a big thank you to Amp and Oui for the great New Year weekend at Coral Island. Seeing them do everything from head to toe at a beach resort on a remote island, drawing pleasure from keeping guests happy, it feels like a scene from Beach Boys, just that this is all real, and they are living proof that anything is possible if you follow your passion!

For all who are thinking of somewhere to go when you have too many days in Bangkok, Russia Pattaya is a no-no but Koh Larn is a go-go because it is really a great place to chill and relax. I believe this will not be the last time the Stranger in Bangkok leaves his footprints there... meanwhile, Sawadee Pii Mai everyone, have a smashing 2011.

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